France sells Dassault stake
France is selling its entire 15.74-percent stake in French industrial software group Dassault Systemes, French bank Societe Generale said Tuesday. The sale, through a placement of shares with qualified investors on the internat-ional market, was expected to generate between 530 million and 580 million euros (US$571 million to US$625 million), the bank, which is managing the deal with Credit Suisse First Boston, said. Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault, which owns 45.22 percent of Dassault Systemes, will waive its pre-emption rights on the state holding, Societe Generale said. Shares in Dassault Systemes surged 3 percent to 3.66 euros in opening trading while the CAC 40 index of leading French stocks gained 0.96 percent.
■ Real estate
Singapore rents drop 12.5%
Office rents in Singapore's prime districts dropped by a steep 12.5 percent, the biggest quarterly drop among major Asian cities, a research report said yesterday. Rents in the city-state for the three-month period ending in June slipped to S$3.10 (US$1.78) per square foot (psf), ranking behind Tokyo, Bombay, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Seoul and Beijing. The report by CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) cited the SARS outbreak and economic uncertainty as reasons behind the fall. Tokyo saw a milder 1.47 percent decline in monthly prime office rents to US$7.87 psf, but remained the most expensive in the region. Taking second was Bombay where office rents declined 4.6 percent to US$2.26 psf, ahead of Hong Kong where grade A office rents were US$2.15 psf.
Japan watches interest rates
Bank of Japan governor Toshihiko Fukui said yesterday he would be watching to see if the recent surge in long-term interest rates thwarts emerging expectations of a much-awaited economic recovery in Japan. Fukui also stressed the central bank was still "obliged to pursue monetary easing" to get the economy back on a sustained recovery path and overcome deflation. His comments came after the yield on the most-actively traded No. 252 10-year government bonds reached the highest levels since December 2000. The yield stood at barely above 0.40 percent just a few months ago. "The possibility of an economic recovery in Japan is strengthening ... in line with our scenario," Fukui said in a speech to a gathering in the central Japanese city of Nagoya, citing positive economic data and surging share prices.
Nestle to vacate Korea
Nestle, the Swiss-based multinational food giant, said yesterday it is considering pulling out of South Korea because of "reckless" labor unrest. "Our head office has instructed us to consider legal steps for the closure of Nestle's plant in South Korea," a Nestle Korea spokeswoman told reporters. She said Nestle's manage-ment was exasperated by "reckless" labor action by workers affiliated with the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), a militant labor group. The group has led a wave of labor strife, demanding shorter working hours and union participation in manage-ment decision-making which has already led to the closure of four foreign-invested firms operating in South Korea this year. Nestle Korea's 460-member union went on strike on July 7 demanding a 11.7 percent pay hike and a say in management. The company has proposed a 5.25 percent wage increase.
TAIWAN PROTECTION MEASURE: US Army General Charles Flynn would not say where in the Asia-Pacific the missiles would be sent, but only that they would arrive in 2024 The US is to send medium-range missiles including the Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) and Tomahawk to the Asia-Pacific next year to deter a Chinese attack on Taiwan, US military news Web site Defense One reported. The report cited comments US Army General Charles Flynn made during the annual Halifax International Security Forum on Nov. 19. “We have tested them and we have a battery or two of them today,” Flynn was quoted as saying. “In 24. We intend to deploy that system in your region. I’m not going to say where and when. But I will just say that we will
UNUSUAL UPTICK: There are more flu-like illnesses in northern China than in the past 3 years, but data from Beijing showed that known pathogens are responsible Responding to an uptick in respiratory illnesses in China, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday said it has instructed international airport and port quarantine centers to raise their alert levels, and plans to issue an alert to healthcare practitioners. The number of flu-like illnesses reported in northern China has been increasing for five consecutive weeks, and is higher than the same period in the past three years, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said. “According to the WHO’s latest statement, issued yesterday, information provided by Chinese government showed that the illnesses were mainly reported among children, and the illnesses were attributed
‘OPEN TO DIALOGUE’: Her alliance with Vice President William Lai is based on their commitment to preserve the nation’s freedom and democracy, Hsiao Bi-khim said Taiwan should “trust, but verify” reports that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) denied that Beijing plans to invade Taiwan in 2027, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice presidential candidate Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) told reporters yesterday. “We anticipate and we hope that Chairman Xi Jinping was sincere when he said there was no timetable” for bringing Taiwan under control by force, said Hsiao, who earlier this week resigned as the representative to the US to join the ticket of DPP nominee, Vice President William Lai (賴清德). Borrowing a phrase from former US president Ronald Reagan — which US President Joe Biden also used after
THREE-WAY RACE: Hou You-yi said until the last minute he hoped to run with Ko Wen-je, but the latter did not pick up the phone when he called to make a final pitch The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) registered their own candidates yesterday after a breakdown in coalition talks, while independent candidate Terry Gou (郭台銘) dropped out, setting up a three-way race for the presidential election in January. TPP Chairman Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) was the first to officially register his candidacy with the Central Election Commission in Taipei yesterday, shortly after naming TPP Legislator Cynthia Wu (吳欣盈) as his running mate. Wu, the daughter of former Shin Kong Financial Holding Co (新光金控) chairman Eugene Wu (吳東進), is a TPP legislator-at-large who was appointed in November last year and had served